It’s official: Bronx residential building workers ratify new union contract in unanimous vote

Building service workers in the Bronx rally on Tuesday, March 14 for a new union contract. The two sides reached a tentative agreement late Tuesday night, before the deal was ratified in a Thursday vote by the union’s membership.
Photo courtesy 32BJ SEIU

On Thursday night, building service workers in the Bronx finalized a major union victory, officially signing off on a new contract that averted what was nearly the borough’s first-ever residential workers strike.

By unanimous vote, service workers ratified a four-year deal with the Bronx Realty Advisory Board (BRAB) on March 16, which was founded in the ’40s to provide full labor representation to owners of Bronx residential buildings whose maintenance employees are members of 32BJ SEIU.

The contract, which takes effect immediately, will impact more than 2,700 employees in the Bronx — from porters and door attendants to superintendents, maintenance teams and concierges.

Prior to coming to terms on a new agreement, 32BJ officials said Bronx workers, such as porters and door attendants, were making roughly $19.66 an hour compared to a wage of $27.13 in the other boroughs. The new pay scale includes $102.80 per week in wage increases over four years, protects all employee benefits, including health care coverage, and secures pension improvements.

“The economic security provided in the contract ensures thousands of Bronx porters, superintendents, door-people, handy-people, maintenance teams and concierges can continue supporting hundreds of thousands of residents while also providing for themselves and their families,” 32BJ SEIU said in a statement.

But the contract also includes a provision that allows BRAB to renegotiate the contract after one year — March 1, 2024 — if they are unable to meet the financial commitment of a four-year wage scale.

The tentative agreement came late Tuesday nigh and was announced just minutes before the prior contract was set to expire. That contract had been ironed out before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2019, and after recent weeks at the bargaining table, both parties seemed far apart. On March 8, union members decided that they would cross the picket line if an agreement was not reached by that Tuesday, March 14 deadline — which would have marked the first residential worker strike in the Bronx.

One of the sticking points in negotiations, BRAB told the Bronx Times, was that pandemic-era measures that aimed to provide financial relief for tenants such as the state’s eviction moratorium and the ERAP program – a government-funded rent relief program – had resulted in a housing court riddled with a record level of rental arrears.

The contract covers 1,404 workers at 433 co-ops, condos and apartment buildings.

Reach Christian Falcone at or (718) 260-2541. Reach Robbie Sequeira at or (718) 260-4599.

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